This page is dedicated to providing news and activity details on what various Sirmoor Rifles Association (SRA) Members are involved with. We hope it will provide an interesting addition to the SRA website. If any SRA Member is involved in anything that others may find interesting then please let either the Honorary Secretary or the Webmaster know:
20 Nov 18
Major Sudan Dewan
Colonel H Shakespear (AA & QMG HQ BGN, Dharan from 12 December 1966 to 18 June 1969)
Brigadier E D Smith (Commander British Gurkhas Line of Communication, Dharan, Nepal, from 26 September 1971 to 22 September 1973)
Maj(GCO) Narbu Lama MBE (Chief Administrative Officer British Gurkha Depot Dharan, from 14 October 1974 to February 1980).
Brigadier Vernon Beachamp. (Detached to HQ British Gurkhas, Dharan, Nepal, as temporary AA & QMG and Deputy Commander, from 28 June 79 to 22 Sep 79).
Brigadier Mike Smith. (Commander and Chief Recruiting Officer of British Gurkhas Nepal with his HQ in Dharan, Nepal, from 20 June 1982 to 6 June 1985).
Brigadier Bruce Jackman OBE MC (SO1 Chief of Staff/Deputy Commander HQ British Gurkhas Nepal from 22 April 1984 to 30 Aug 1985)
Maj (QM) Les Peacock (QM and MTO HQ British Gurkhas Nepal in Dharan from 4 December 1986 [assuming the appointment on 15 December 1986] to 30 August 1989).
Brig John Brewer CBE (SO1 Deputy Commander/Commandant Dharan HQ, HQ British Gurkhas Nepal, from 16 October 1988 to 9 November 1989 where he planned and implemented the closure of Dharan Cantonment).
Maj Rambahadur Gurung MBE. (Posted to BGD Dharan as CAO from 6 Feb 1987 to Feb 1990 during which time there was a major earthquake in East Nepal and for his efforts during the recovery phase he was appointed MBE.
9 Sep 2018
Carina Evans – ‘The Chemin de Liberte’ walked in early July 2018 in memory of her late grandfather Bob Wade (SOE).
Capt Bishnu Singh – ‘Doko Challenge 2018’ – Bishop Stortford Independent.
19 Jan 2018
Maj Sudan Dewan – GWT Scottish Branch Charity Lunch.
21 June 2017
Maj Sudan Dewan – Glasgow Gurkha News
Major John Burlison – Treks in Nepal
Major John Burlison – Belize
10 Apr 2017
Maj Sudan Dewan – Highland Joy – Bagging the Munros.
Maj John Burlison – What Of Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham Today?
Col Christopher Lavender – View from the Orient.
06 Mar 2017 – A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK THAT THE CAIRN TEAM IS CARRYING OUT IN NEPAL
04 Mar 2017 – MAJ SUDAN DEWAN BEM (1976 – 1974)– VISIT TO KOHIMA
17 Jan 2017 – PRESENTATION OF MBE AWARDED TO MAJ KHALU CHETTRI MBE MC IOM 2/2GR
WO2 Khadak Chettri third generation pride
21 Nov 2016 – More News from Christopher Lavender.
06 Nov 2016 – Kadoorie Charitable Foundation (KCF) and Philanthropic Travels in 2015 – Christopher Lavender KCF Director.
Philanthropic Travels in 2015
I thought some Sirmoorees might be interested to know the extent of the Kadoorie Family’s philanthropic activities – outside Nepal and the Kadoorie Farm in Hong Kong – with which most are familiar. The main conduit for this funding is through the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation (KCF) – of which I am the Director – supplemented by the family’s own personal funding. This account is written of my travels in 2015 – but with a few comments to bring affairs up to date in November 2016.
I commence this travelogue in Bombay in 2015 – where I have visited many times over the last 18 years trying to overcome endemic corruption and restore – at our cost – a school built in the late 19th Century and catering for 1,000 children that bears the Kadoorie name. But everyone wants a slice of the cake – whoever is doing the baking – and I am not sanguine about the outcome! Bombay comes in the middle of a busy six weeks. The last week in August saw me in Bangladesh visiting a livelihoods project – working as we prefer to through women’s self help groups – in the far north of the country at Kurigram. This necessitated an 8 hour drive from Dhaka – which was followed almost immediately by a visit the other end of the country – Chittagong – to see what we can do to help the ship breakers who break up huge container ships and tankers on the beach – and are paid US $ 3 for a 12 hour shift for this extremely dangerous work involving all sorts of toxic waste. We hope to set up a medical facility and provide training for dealing with these dangerous chemicals – a worker died in an explosion during our visit. Two days in Hong Kong and then to Nepal for my second visit this year to catch up with our post earthquake work – constructing very impressive temporary housing in Gorkha District – and looking at the administrative side of the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association (KAAA). Al Howard (who served for six years with 6GR) ran KAAA for 4 years having succeeded Bill Smart at the end of 2012. He then relieved William Shuttlewood as Director GWT. Colonel Andrew Mills (Ex – QGE) took over as Director KAAA in April. Andrew and his team are responsible for delivering a community aid programme with an annual budget of approximately GBP 3.5 million, working alongside the Gurkha Welfare Scheme. KAAA (BGN) remains the pillar of the family’s philanthropic heritage and will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2018.
During the visit we also opened a new footbridge and water project in Dolpa. The GoN have chosen to celebrate the 6,000th trail-bridge built in Nepal by a ceremony at a new KAAA bridge – a testimony to KAAAs high standards of construction and maintenance.
I also visited the Dhaulagiri Deaf School in Baglung with Maj Yambahadur Gurung (2 GR and the KCF’s Consultant in Nepal for non-KAAA projects – who has been working for us for 15 years) where we are funding the building of a hostel. A most impressive principal – and a well chosen name for the school with stunning views of Dhaulagiri. Then back to Hong Kong for three days in a vain attempt to keep up on the paperwork before flying to the UK to visit a cancer research programme family members are funding, a meeting with the NGO ‘Impact’ with whom we work closely in Nepal and Bangladesh, an exploratory visit to Imperial College (Sir Michael Kadoorie has an honorary doctorate) and lunch with Gen Sir Peter Wall, Chairman of the GWT. All built around our memorable 200th Anniversary Sirmoor Luncheon at the Travellers Club on 12th September – with my next destination being Houston to check up on Michael’s funding of a programme of research into personalised cancer therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Centre. A total of seven scientists to brief me – a struggle to keep up with the jargon and technical data – but I held my own. Accountability is what it is all about ! Then to San Francisco to visit a partner of 11 years standing – the Hesperian Foundation- who publish medical books for use in developing countries – ‘Where there is no Doctor’ , ‘Mother and Child’ etc. hugely impressive books and very simply and clearly illustrated . We pay the cost of translating the books into Nepali, Khmer, Chinese, Laos etc.
And so having travelled around the World – I arrive back in Hong Kong , for three days and an in-house funding meeting before jumping on a flight to Bombay – where I am now. Hopefully we may make progress at today’s meeting – but recent history does not encourage optimism. Either way I take a late night flight tonight transiting through Bangkok and arrive at Chiang Mai tomorrow morning to visit a home for cerebral palsy children that we have been supporting in a modest way – run by a saintly English woman – and then on to another long term project helping the Karen Hill Tribes, near the border with Burma with water, sanitation and livelihoods. A visit to a hospital in Mae Sot which ministers to the significant cross border nomadic Burmese population (we have provided the outpatients block) completes my Thailand visit and then it is off to Vietnam to visit an NGO near Hoi An that looks after Down Syndrome and autistic children.
Much of my time is spent in the back of a 4WD and while we insist on our partners satisfying a safety protocol relating to the vehicle and the driver in reality you just hope that it is not your unlucky day. I have probably been very lucky to have been involved in only one fatal accident in 18 years (in Burma) – and happily survived to tell the tale.
We have between 70-90 projects under funding at any one time focused on livelihoods, healthcare and education. Half of these are in China, with the others being in Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam , and a few nominal projects in Israel and in the West Bank – which I visit every 3 years or so. The key to good philanthropy is not so much in the ‘giving’ as the implementation, and the only way to ensure that our funding is being used for the correct purpose is to visit our funding partners – before , during and after funding. It is for this reason that my passports (I have two) are so well stamped! I am assisted by three others in our team who make field visits and it is not uncommon to find us all travelling at the same time.
Reviewing this in 2016, last year was a very busy year, made more exciting by the celebrations surrounding the 200th Anniversary of the Sirmoor Rifles and ‘G 200’! Jai Sirmoor
23 May 2016 LIEUTENANT COLONEL PETER KEMMIS BETTY MC PRESENTS THE 2ND K. E. O. GOORKHAS (SIRMOOR RIFLES) GOLF TROPHY AT CORHAMPTON GOLF CLUB ON HIS 100TH BIRTHDAY – 5TH MAY 2016
LIEUTENANT COLONEL PETER KEMMIS BETTY MC PRESENTS THE 2ND K. E. O. GOORKHAS (SIRMOOR RIFLES) GOLF TROPHY AT CORHAMPTON GOLF CLUB ON HIS 100TH BIRTHDAY – 5TH MAY 2016
The Sirmoor Rifles Golf Championship has been played at Corhampton Golf Club since 1999, the year when one of the Members, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Kemmis Betty MC, an ex-officer of the 2nd Goorkhas (Sirmoor Rifles), first invited his Regimental Association’s Golf Society to play there.
The Championship Trophy itself was presented to the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Goorkhas (The Sirmoor Rifles) by ‘Some Honorary Officers’ in India in 1923. It was won by Peter’s elder brother, Mervyn, in 1933; and by his son Richard in 2007 and 2008; and by his grandson Alexander in 2012.
The Championship this year was played on Thursday 5th May, which was Peter Kemmis Betty’s 100th birthday. And five Kemmis Bettys – sons Richard, Charlie and David, and grandsons Jonathan and Alexander – all vied for the trophy on that day. Peter came to present the Trophy.
During the presentation ceremony the 31 players were reminded of the eventful life Peter has lived – darkened only by his 3½ years as a Japanese POW in Changi, Singapore, after he lead his company of Gurkhas during the succession of defensive actions fought by his Battalion (2nd Battalion 2nd K. E. O. Goorkhas) against the Japanese all the way from the Malay/Thai Border down the Malaya Peninsular to Singapore where the Battalion was ordered to surrender.
Peter was awarded the Military Cross when his company held the vital bridge over the Sungei Dipang River against successive Japanese attacks until it could be blown. Worse was to come at Slim River when, despite fierce resistance against tanks and waves of screaming Japanese infantry, the Battalion was outflanked and became stranded on the far bank when the bridge was blown. The Battalion had to make its own way across the river and many Gurkha soldiers were drowned and much equipment was lost. Days later in Parit Bunta they were bombed and strafed by Japanese aircraft causing many casualties and more equipment destroyed.
The Battalion held a final defence position at Pontian Kechil on the south west coast of Malaya for 10 days when they were ordered to retreat across the Causeway to Singapore before it was blown up. In Singapore the battalion initially defended the Naval Base and then withdrew again to south of the Bukit Timah road when at long last they were able to prepare a very good defensive position where they expected to give a good account of themselves. There they received the order to surrender, which was met with incredulity and anger by everyone, especially the older Gurkha Officers and NCOs whose ethos was ‘never to give up’.
Then followed 3½ ghastly years as a POW in Changi, the infamous Japanese POW camp. Indeed, after his release from captivity Peter initially remained behind in Malaya to collect up other survivors of the Battalion who had been imprisoned outside Singapore, before he was repatriated to India.
But drama was to strike again a few years later when he, his wife, and their two children at that time, Richard (aged 2) and Charlie (7 months), embarked on the Empire Windrush to set sail for England from Singapore for leave. Off Algeria there was an explosion in the engine room and 4 seamen were killed. The ship caught fire and had to be abandoned. Charlie was thrown like a rugby ball by an Italian sailor into a lifeboat and thankfully caught by a safe pair of hands. The ship was towed to Gibraltar but sank off the coast and the Kemmis Bettys lost everything. The family returned from Algeria to England via Gibraltar. Later Peter was posted back to the 2nd Battalion and fought through the Malayan Emergency where he commanded the Battalion in the latter stages, for which he was Mentioned in Despatches.
Leaving aside Peter’s distinguished military career he was a very good sportsman. Skiing was his favourite sport and he skied from the age of 6 to 86! Most of this was done at a time when there were few if any ski lifts or pistes and he and his brother would ascend up the mountain for a couple of hours wearing skins to get one run down off-piste. When he retired from the Army he became Secretary of the Army Ski Association and ran the Army and Inter Services Championships. But skiing wasn’t the only thing Peter enjoyed to an advanced age. He was a very decent squash player and probably a better tennis player. He was also a very fine single figure handicap golfer.
16 May 16 SUB MAJ KALU CHETTRI MBE MC
A Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) award that was granted in Sep 1947 has finally been presented. WO2 Khadak Chettri (GSPS) received the MBE on behalf of his grandfather Subedar Major (Late) Kalu Chettri’s MBE MC at Buckingham Palace on Fri 13 May 2016.
A Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) award that was granted in Sep 1947 has finally been presented. WO2 Khadak Chheri (GSPS) received the MBE on behalf of his grandfather Subedar Major (Late) Kalu Chettri’s MBE MC at Buckingham Palace on Fri 13 May 2016. The MBE was awarded in recognition of his outstanding bravery and resilience shown during 3 and a half years of captivity in the Prisoner of War Camps during the Second World War. For full details and photographs visit the GBA Website, and the Army MOD/News and Features website ‘Gurkha Awarded MBE 70 Years Late’ where you can also read the citations for his MC and MBE.
17 Mar 16 – LAVENDER’S RECENT TRAVELS TO INDIAN MUTINY MEMORIAL ON DELHI RIDGE & KOHIMA
Photograph of Christopher Lavender visiting the Indian Mutiny Memorial on Delhi Ridge – suitably attired in January. Seen here pointing out the casualties of the Sirmur Battalion (319) with his trusty old Blackthorn! He conducted a tour of Mutiny sites in Delhi en route to the battlefields of Imphal and Kohima.
Whilst at Kohima I found a valiant 2nd Goorkha officer buried at Kohima – Maj HG Lyons-Montgomery – who was a Brigade Major and quite possibly served with 50 Indian Parachute Brigade. Bruce forwarded his Regimental Register prepared by Denis Wood. When we visited Kohima various of our party decided to sponsor a Naga child to go to school through the Kohima Educational Trust (KET) for a modest amount. However the KET like to link this to someone who fought and died at the battle – and then the student is encouraged to go and visit the grave and understand a little about the huge upheaval that occurred in the lives of their grandparents. I have called my sponsorship after Maj HG Lyons-Montgomery. Apart from him being the only 2nd Goorkha that I could find on the Cemetery he is the best link I will have to an exceptional sportsman – according to his record at Sandhurst as well as winning the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst.